Big Lots' fiscal Q4 sales grew 7.7% year-over-year to US$1.62B as comparable-store sales increased 3.4%, exceeding 1%-2% guidance; company raises Q4 earnings guidance to reflect 17%-19% gain over Q4 2010

Cindy Allen

Cindy Allen

COLUMBUS, Ohio , February 2, 2012 () – Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE: BIG - News) is reporting retail sales for U.S. operations for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2011 ended January 28, 2012 of $1,622.9 million, an increase of 7.7% compared to $1,507.1 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010. Comparable store sales, for stores open in the United States for at least two years at the beginning of the fiscal year, increased 3.4% for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011. These results exceeded our guidance which called for a 1% to 2% increase in comparable store sales.

Consistent with prior reporting practices, fourth quarter sales for the Canadian and Wholesale operations will be announced along with fourth quarter financial results on Thursday, March 1, 2012.

Commenting on sales for the quarter, Steve Fishman, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President stated, "I'm pleased with our fourth quarter sales results and the improving trends we have experienced throughout the year. For the all-important holiday selling season, we believe our strategy was very well executed and our decision to be aggressive in certain key categories was successful. From a merchandise perspective, seasonal and furniture each comped up low double digits and consumables comped up mid single digits. Additionally, our planned shift to more electronics merchandise while downsizing toys was well received by our customers."

Based on the U.S. sales results and lower than expected losses in our Canadian business, we are raising our consolidated fourth quarter earnings guidance to $1.71 - $1.74 per diluted share. This represents a 17% to 19% improvement over fourth quarter 2010 earnings of $1.46 per diluted share. Our revised guidance compares to prior guidance of $1.59 - $1.66 per diluted share.

For the fifty-two week fiscal 2011, retail sales from U.S. operations totaled $5,093.4 million, an increase of 3.9% compared to $4,900.6 million for the same period in fiscal 2010. Comparable store sales increased 0.1% for fiscal 2011.

Consistent with our increased fourth quarter expectations, we now expect earnings of $2.94 - $2.97 per diluted share from continuing operations for fiscal 2011, a 4% to 5% improvement over fiscal 2010 earnings of $2.83 per diluted share.

Big Lots is North America's largest broadline closeout retailer. As of January 28, 2012, we operated 1,451 BIG LOTS stores in the 48 contiguous United States and 82 LIQUIDATION WORLD and LW stores in Canada. Wholesale operations are conducted through BIG LOTS WHOLESALE, CONSOLIDATED INTERNATIONAL, and WISCONSIN TOY and with online sales at

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Forward-looking statements that we make herein and in other reports and releases are not guarantees of future performance and actual results may differ materially from those discussed in such forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including, but not limited to, the current economic and credit crisis, the cost of goods, our inability to successfully execute strategic initiatives, competitive pressures, economic pressures on our customers and us, the availability of brand name closeout merchandise, trade restrictions, freight costs, the risks discussed in the Risk Factors section of our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K, and other factors discussed from time to time in our other filings with the SEC, including Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K. This release should be read in conjunction with such filings, and you should consider all of these risks, uncertainties and other factors carefully in evaluating forward-looking statements.

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